This is a great time to set new goals and resolutions for your business. Unlike our personal resolutions that may involve dropping a few pounds or organizing the garage, following through (or failing to follow through) with business resolutions can have a major impact on your organization. Please consider one of the following resolutions and how it might work for you. Join me on LinkedIn or Facebook and let's discuss how resolutions can help grow your business in 2012.
1) Design SMART goals for 2012. SMART goals are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. "Increase profits" is not specific. Instead, a SMART Goal would be phrased "Gain one new client per month/quarter by the end of 2012." Your goals should be broken down into smaller daily, weekly, or monthly goals to help keep you on track. Then post your goals where you can see them. When your goals are written down and visible, you subconsciously start working on them. It's okay to re-evaluate your goals if your goal is either easily attained or not feasible. When you reach a goal, make sure to take time to celebrate the success.
2) Make planning a regular event. Planning is an important aspect of growing your business and finding balance between your home and work life. Whether at the beginning or end of your day, take 10 or 15 minutes to organize your desk and write your daily goals and to-do list. It ensure that you won't forget something important and increases the likelihood that you'll accomplish that task. (I use my own Productivity To-Do List everyday. I punch holes in them and keep them in a three ring binder.) Make a plan once a week to regularly review your marketing, business, and financial plans.
3) Use what works, drop what doesn't. Find technology that works for you and invest in what fits your needs. Do you appreciate the "ding" of an electronic reminder, or do you get satisfaction of taking a pen to paper and to draft your message? Figure out what works for you and embrace it. There are many new applications available for your computer, tablet, or phone that help you be more productive and many of them are free. Along the same lines, if a piece of technology or equipment is holding you back - find ways to improve it or replace it. Perhaps you've been paying for a service you don't use or simply don't know how to use. Either learn how to use it or discontinue it.
If an aspect of your business plan or sales technique isn't working for you - change it. Remember that your time (and your employees') time is valuable, and having technology or processes that are ineffective reflects on your company to your employees and customers.
4) Decide to delegate. Many business owners and leaders feel that they need to do all the things associated with their business or department. If you're overwhelmed, find ways to delegate or out-source what you can. Whether that means bringing in someone part-time, assigning tasks to current staff, or seeking project specific contracts to lessen your workload, hiring others to help your business grow is smart. It make take you three hours to figure out how to change something on your website, while an expert may take just minutes. Save yourself time and frustration - hire great people to do what they do best so that you can do what you do best.
5) Learn something new. Resolve to learn something everyday. Now is the perfect time for professional and personal development. Read a business book. Listen to an audio book. Peruse business summaries. Get smarter to advance yourself and your business. Perhaps taking a course on a specific software application or a speech class would make you feel more efficient and confident at work. Similarly, encourage your coworkers and employees to enhance themselves professionally. This benefits them and increases your company's productivity.
6) Join a new business organization or networking group. Consider joining or becoming more involved in professional organizations relevant to your business and career goals. Online communities through LinkedIn can be very effective. In-person networking groups such as Chambers of Commerce, associations, or alumni groups allow you to exchange ideas with other professionals to find new opportunities. Building these relationships also provides avenues for accountability - if you tell people you are training to climb Pikes Peak or that starting a newsletter, chances are you will be more committed to your resolutions.
Increase social capital. Social Capital is why people live in communities. Communities with strong social capital tend to be more prosperous, more resilient, and develop better educated children. What contributes to social capital? People who work to build a strong community. Pitch in. Volunteer. Join your local community centers, churches, and chambers. Coach Little League or be scout leader. Walk for cancer or Alzheimer's, or visit an Alzheimer's patient. Monetary donations help, but communities also need time and talent. Be involved. If you love being outdoors, look into organizations and community events to clear and build trails. Love your business? Consider mentoring a college student interested in your field. Passionate about a cause? Volunteer at fundraisers for the organizations you believe in. Whether you're able to provide 2 hours a week or 2 hours a quarter, it makes a difference. The organizations will be grateful for your time and talent, you gain connections and have fun, and you building your community in the process.